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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Best Sonic Vocal Songs

Image by Crash96 and Fantasiia

In honor of Sonic the Hedgehog turning 21 this month, I've rolled out a long list of my favorite vocal tracks from the Sonic series. Vocal songs are as much a staple in the Sonic franchise as the loop-the-loops Sonic runs through in each platform entry. Some haters like to say the more modern tracks are cheesy, but Sonic vocal songs have been prominent fairly early in blue streak's career, as early as 1993, with the release of Sonic CD and even then, they were cheesy. But really, that's one of the main reasons, I love the Sonic vocals. It's good cheese. I'm not expecting grammy winning material with these songs. If it happens to catch my fancy, that's all that matters. Because it would be impossible to say which one of these songs I like the best, there's no numbering system here. I admit that I love some of these songs more than others, but that really isn't the point of this feature. I'm merely sharing what I personally believe are the best batch of Sonic vocals with you. Maybe it'll be a nice trip down memory lane for you. Or Perhaps you'll get some new favorites.

Image by Orioto

The first time I'd read about Sonic CD was the December 1993 issue of GamePro magazine. The preview they had for Sonic CD blew my mind, making me wish I owned a Sega CD. It looked like such an incredible game and with a cool FMV intro to boot! I never imagined that intro would have such an amazing song accompanying it. I didn't play Sonic CD until the summer of 2001 and that intro put a huge smile on my face. As Sonic ran at super speed to his destination as Sonic Boom played, I just looked on in awe. Every time I played Sonic CD, I had to watch that intro so I could hear Sonic Boom. While I think Sonic CD is a fine addtion to the Sonic series, it isn't my favorite hedgehog game. It's got some questionable level design that's uneven, has some of the worst pinball aspects the series has ever seen, and an overabundance of springs. That being said, it's a game I still come back to and Sonic Boom is easily one of the best things Sonic CD gave to the Sonic mythos. Kicking other players around Green Hill Zone in Super Smash Bros. Brawl while Sonic Boom plays is all kinds of awesome. Coincidentally, this was the very first Sonic vocal song I ever heard. Go figure.

Haters can hate all they want. I do not care. I will defend Sonic R's music until the end of time. My first time playing Sonic R was the PC version and I had no idea what I was in for. After hearing "GO!" on Resort Island, I was surprised to hear lyrics kick in. Yeah, they can be pretty questionable but it somehow felt right to me. Can You Feel the Sunshine? is a the very definition of "feel good music," made to uplift one's spirit. Richard Jacques is a music composing machine and Teresa Jane Davis can sing like nobody's business. Man, I love this song! A remix and the original needs to be in Sonic All-Stars Racing: Transformed.

Image by DeusArtMachina

Did you really think this song wasn't going to be on the list? Shame on you. Played in the Japanese/European anime opening, an 8-bit version of this song can be heard in the Game Gear version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. In a classic case of misunderstanding the lyrics, I actually thought this song was saying "Super Sonic Warrior" but years later I found out it was "Toot Toot Sonic Warrior" I do find it interesting that the phrase "Sonic Boom" is part of the lyrics. Coincidence?

It Doesn't Matter - Sonic Adventure (DC, GCN)

For better or for worse, Sonic Adventure gave players more characters to play as. But I don't think anyone will dispute that giving each character their own musical theme was a great idea. The game's six playable characters had some awesome theme tunes, with many fans viewing Sonic's in very high regard. Just like You Can Do Anything and Sonic Boom, It Doesn't Matter is an excellent portrayal of Sonic. The song has some killer guitar work and an outstanding performance by Tony Harnell. Literally and figuratively, It Doesn't Matter rocks.

Team Chaotix - Sonic Heroes (PS2, Xbox, GCN)

Espio, Charmy and Vector make up Team Chaotix, one of the four playable teams in Sonic Heroes. I'm not sure what it is the Chaotix, but these guys are just so darned likable. Maybe it's the character designs. I thought Vector was cool long before I'd even heard of his internet meme. Charmy's so freaking cute. And Espio's a ninja and who doesn't like those? They've got a rocking theme song with Team Chaotix, which I think is the best team theme of the lot.

 Escape from the City - Sonic Adventure 2 (DC, GCN)

Sonic Adventure 2 starts out with a bang. The military is after Sonic because they think he stole a Chaos Emerald when in actuality, the culprit they seek is Shadow. How anyone could confuse Sonic for Shadow, what with them being two different colors is beyond me, but I'm going off topic again. City Escape sees Sonic rail grinding and near the end of the stage, you're pursued by a G.U.N. truck. All this happens while Escape from the City plays in the background. Composed by veteran Sonic music junkie Jun Senoue and sung by Ted Poley, Escape from the City stands as one of the most beloved vocal tracks in Sonic Adventure 2 and considering how many vocal performances are in the game and how good they are, that says a lot. Escape from the City was also remixed for Sonic Generations.

You're My Hero - Sonic 3D Blast (Saturn)

Sonic 3D Blast or Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island as it's called in Japan and Europe is living proof that classic Sonic's reputation is not spotless. To put it mildly, Sonic 3D Blast was a crappy, crappy Sonic game. The only redeeming features to speak of are the gorgeous visuals and outstanding soundtracks on both the Genesis and Saturn versions. The Saturn version's music was handled by Richard Jacques and like Sonic R, his work here is amazing. Sonic 3D Blast on the Saturn takes advantage of the Saturn's CD audio capabilities, featuring a completely different score from the Genesis version. You'll hear bits of the title music in a few of Sonic 3D Blast's zones and the ending theme is splendid, slowed down vocal version of it titled You're My Hero. A fantastic final song in a game that is bursting at the seems with some of the best music from a Sonic game. This wouldn't be the last time a terrible Sonic game had excellent music.

Cosmic Eternity - Believe in Yourself - Sonic CD (SCD, PSN, XBLA)

Finish Sonic CD with the Japanese/European version of the game's music playing and you'll be treated to another 1990s style vocal track. I still don't know what the starting lyrics to this course are but it doesn't really matter. Cosmic Eternity is such a catchy, addictive tune. It also sends a positive message like a few other songs mentioned in this list: belief in one's self is of utmost importance. This song starts out slow and takes some time to pick things up but I've always liked the low key beginning.

His World - Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 (PS3, 360)

This ladies and gets, is the mother of all abysmal Sonic games. To celebrate Sonic's 15th anniversary, Sega and Sonic Team rushed Sonic the Hedgehog out the door to meet the holiday rush. Often referred to as Sonic '06 as to not confuse it with the Genesis and Game Gear classics of the same name, the game was a buggy, glitch-filled mess that was panned by critics and fans all around the world. The one good thing about this game? The music was amazing! Seriously, even the most jaded Sonic fan will defend this game's soundtrack. Like so many Sonic games before, the blue blur was given a sweet theme song in the form of His World. The rad vocals were sung by Matty Lewis and Tabatabaee of Zebrahead fame. There are actually two more versions of this song, including another by Zebrahead, but for me, the original is king.

Work It Out - Sonic R (Saturn)

What, you thought I was done placing songs from Sonic R on this list? Yeah, right. Reactive Factory became one of my favorite tracks to race on simply because it gave me the opportunity to hear Work It Out, easily one of my top three songs from Sonic R. It was such an awesome song to listen to as I ran down those huge hills and hit those speed boosters. I honestly wouldn't mind hearing this song in a regular Sonic platform game or at least in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed.

Open Your Heart - Sonic Adventure (DC, GCN)

That opening CG intro to Sonic Adventure was cool in it's own right. I mean, who didn't get a kick out of seeing the Sonic cast return in full rendered form? What made it even better? The theme song to the game, Open Your Heart by Crush 40. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor the first time I heard this song and watched the opening. It wasn't the full version but dang, it was still no less astounding. This song is probably the reason many Sonic fans adore Crush 40 and for my money, this is still one of their best Sonic songs. Everything about it is just so freaking awesome.

E.G.G.M.A.N. - Sonic Adventure 2 (DC, GCN)

Forgive me for opening up the great divide, but I've gotta be honest. I hate the name Eggman. I don't care if it is his original Japanese name, it sounds stupid. Dr. Robotnik sounds a million times better. I do find it ironic that he didn't come to be known as Eggman in American and Europe until Sonic Adventure, where he actually started to look like an egg. Despite the fact that I'm not fond of his original name, his theme song is one of my favorite character themes in Sonic Adventure 2. It describes the doctor well without sounding like an overly dark and brooding theme.

Catch Me If You Can - Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity (PS2, Wii)

Oh No! Sonic is on a hover board! Ruined forever!!! Yeah, we get it. Sonic is super fast. "Why is he even on a surf/hover board?" some may ask. Not like he isn't allowed to look to other means for excitement outside of running fast. And besides, in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sonic Triple Trouble and Sonic Adventure he was on a snowboard in all three of those games. No one complained. You know what else no one complains about? Catch Me If You Can. I prefer the version in Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity

What I'm Made Of - Sonic Heroes (PS2, GCN, Xbox)

When you face off against someone, you're essentially showing them your true mettle. So you gotta give them everything you've got. Pull out all the stops and show them that you are not to be underestimated. Not everyone can save the world with Crush 40 as their backup support, but in Sonic Heroes you certainly can. Fighting the final boss while What I'm Made Of is playing in the background is unbearably cool.

The Palace That Was Found - Sonic and the Secret Rings (Wii)

I'm probably in the minority, but I've always felt Sonic and the Secret Rings had one of the weakest soundtracks of the series. I don't think it's bad. The music in the game just doesn't grab me. While the lyrics are very limited and repetitive, The Palace That Was Found is still a standout song for me. I don't even know what the song is trying to say and I don't really care. When I find this place the song speaks of, I'm gonna rock that sucker like a boss.

Super Sonic Racing - Sonic R (Saturn)

Well look at that. Another song from Sonic R made the list. They say that everyone is Kung-Fu fighting but that's old hat. New hat is Super Sonic Racing. I mean everybody is doing. Really, everybody. You don't wanna be a loser, do you? Be like the cool kids and Super Sonic Racing like everybody. Kinda hard to believe this is actually the title theme and not a song that plays on a race track. There have been a few remixes of this song, including one for last year's Sonic Generations, but nothing tops the original.

Believe in Myself - Sonic Adventure (DC, GCN)

Miles "Tails" Prower has got to be one of the most gifted sidekicks around. He can fly with his two tails and while he may not be as smart as Sonic's arch nemesis, he's quite the tech wizard. How many other kids have built a airplane, had said plane shot down, repaired it quickly and fit it with a rocket engine? While Tails may cause the player some grief when he's controlled by AI, hes's still one of the coolest little bros in the Sonic universe and in my book, he'll always fly high.

Seven Rings in Hand ~Fairytales in Trance~ - Sonic and the Black Knight (Wii)

The song made it's debut in Sonic and the Secret Rings but it wasn't until Sonic and the Black Knight that I truly took notice of it. I'm a huge fan of Sonic rock songs, but I gotta say, I prefer the more gentle nature of this version.

Un-gratify - Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity (PS2, Wii)

ESPN sporting events? Meh. Sporting events with a hedgehog and pals? I'd probably watch that. Have Un-gratify play to open up the whole sports show and you'll have me glued to my TV. To make the sports even more interesting, they should invite a plumber and his friends, too.

This Machine - Sonic Heroes (PS2, GCN, Xbox)

Much as I like Team Sonic, they seem to keep getting bested in the vocal theme department. I mean, this is the second vocal track from Sonic Heroes on this list and they haven't made the cut. Oh well. This Machine is one of my favorite hard rock tracks not just from the Sonic games, but from game music in general. It makes Team Dark sound like a crew that you wouldn't wanna screw with.

Waking Up - Shadow the Hedgehog (PS2, GCN, Xbox)

One of the darker Sonic games, Shadow the Hedgehog had it's main character wielding guns, riding on a motorcycle, and dropping D-bombs like they were going out of style. Yeah the edgy factor on this one was cranked up to eleven. To further reflect the mood, the game's music was even more rock based than that of Sonic Adventure 2. The music was one of the very few good points about Shadow the Hedgehog. This disaster spawned some excellent vocal performances but the one that stands out from the pack to me is Waking Up.

Sweet Dream 06 Akon Remix - Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 (PS3, 360)

Do remember Masato Nakamura? He's the chap that gave us those oh-so wonderful tunes from the Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Genesis. Regardless of what your thoughts are on the romance between Sonic and Elise and Sonic '06, I think most would agree that this is a pretty eh, sweet song (sorry). There are four versions of it and this is the one I find myself listening to the most. If you're hearing this song for the first time and think it sounds familiar to you, yes, you've heard it somewhere before. It's a remix of Sonic 2's ending theme.

Live and Learn - Sonic Adventure 2 (DC, GCN)

I hadn't even played Sonic Adventure 2, yet I was still able to hear this song thanks to the now defunct Gaming FM. I couldn't believe it. "THIS song is from a Sonic game?" I thought. It's awesome in it's own right but having it as the final boss theme? That's even better! It may be the best final boss vocal theme of any Sonic game and for many fans, it may be their favorite Crush 40 song.

With Me - Sonic and the Black Knight (Wii)

Just as I was with Sonic Adventure 2, I'm shocked that this superb vocal performance is the final boss music. Talk about motivation. With Me is like some ultimate power-up theme music. I don't care if you are the greatest knight that ever lived. If I have a sword in hand and this music is playing in the background, you're going to get peaced out.

Dreams of an Absolution - Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 (PS3, 360)

I like a good chunk of the Sonic cast but I'm not terribly fond of Silver. I mean, coming from a future that blows, yeah, my heart bleeds for you, but that's no excuse for being a crappy character. His vocal theme, however, is my number one favorite in Sonic '06, yes, even beating out His World. The first time I heard it, I was in love. I listened to it over and over. A very upbeat theme for a character that comes from a bleak world. Dreams of an Absolution, proof that good things can come from lousy characters. And games.

Endless Possibilities - Sonic Unleashed (PS2, PS3, 360, Wii)

When Sonic Unleashed is brought up in conversation, most people will praise the day time stages while condemning the night time stages. I guess I'm gonna be in the minority and say that I don't have much of a problem with the night time stages. Sure, combat is repetitive and playing as the Werehog is slow but those that think Sonic is suppose to be zoom zoom 100% of the time probably forgot about the slower areas from the older Sonic games like Marble Zone and Labyrinth Zone. Once again, Sonic Unleashed proves that the hedgehog has some of the best music in gaming with themes suited for both day and night play. There's an old saying: Life is what you make it. That saying reminds me of Sonic Unleashed's vocal theme, Endless Possibilities. Our time on this Earth may be limited but the possibilities that life holds truly are unlimited.

Free - Sonic Free Riders (360)

From my understanding, this is the worst of the Sonic snowboard/hover board games. Released for the Xbox 360's Kinect, Sonic Free Riders actually has you getting on a board. While that sounds like it might be fun, apparently it wasn't enough to save it from the wrath of critics and fans. At least we got the awesome Free out of game.

Dear My Friend - Sonic Unleashed (PS2, PS3, 360, Wii)

In life we meet all kinds of people that have impacts on us. Parting with these people for any reason can be painful because they won't be part of our lives in the way that they once were. When I moved to Virginia Beach over a year ago, it was one of the toughest things I had to do because I left behind lifelong friends and just good people in general. Even though I'm states apart from them, I can still think back on the good times I had with them. It may sound generic, but family, friends, the people that matter to you really do live on in your heart. While Dear My Friend can be a pretty sad song, especially when you consider the circumstances behind it, it's also the most touching Sonic song I've ever heard. It's an excellent reminder that, no matter how far away you are, true friends are always there, even if they can't be there physically.


There ya go, what I personally think are the best vocal performances from the Sonic titles. Did I miss your favorite? Which song or songs do you think don't belong here? I'm looking forward to more vocal Sonic goodness.

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